If eating sustainably adds a whole new level of “to-do” to your list, don’t fret. There are a multitude of ways the food-conscious can easily switch up, reduce and recycle to prevent waste, right now.
Aside from growing your own produce, drinking Fair Trade coffee in your keep-cup, and ditching anything containing palm oil, these sustainable habits will help to keep the planet (and your tummy) happy.
1. FOOD SHOPPING
Question; why do you always need to go to the supermarket? You’re not prepared. This is the first step to reducing your food shopping footprint. Go once. Make a shopping list, note down your meals for the week, and stick to them. As you reduce your car pollution, potential wastage, and plastic consumption - you’ll end up buying enough food for the entire week, which might even save you money.
Did you know: An average household food wastage can account for upwards of $2,200. Yikes!
While you’re there, take reusable shopping bags, food pouches to stash those floating fruits and vegetables, and only pick up what you’ll eat. Oh, and those half pumpkins you love so much? That just means more plastic wrap. Buy your melons, cauliflower, or cabbages whole, and try new recipes to ensure you use them up over the week. And you can forget about squeezy-top honey and sauces; opt for glass jars that you can repurpose.
Cooking at home is a no-brainer when it comes to your sustainable choices, with your eagle eye over every step of the process. Cooking sustainably also relies a lot on preparation; it’s so easy to grab the soup in the plastic container when your mind is elsewhere. Learn how to make your favourite condiments, soups, and pasta sauce yourself, and batch prepare and freeze if you know you’ve got a busy week ahead.
Think about the parts of your meats and vegetables that you normally throw away; many of these stems, leaves and animal parts can help you prepare delicious stock, jams, pickles, and other tasty morsels.
And while we can’t pickle everything, you can always add your fruit and veggie scraps to compost. The simple rule for safe composting is not to add any animal or meat byproducts. Add your leftover plain-cooked pasta and rice (as long as it hasn’t been salted) and even your eggshells, as long as no egg itself hits the soil.
3. SEASONAL EATING
Avocados too hard? Leave them alone, it’s just not their time. Do a little research and when possible, try to include seasonal produce from your local farm shop or greengrocer in your diet.
As well as supporting your local economy, you can strike up a conversation with your local producers who will love you picking their brain on how to prepare, select and get the most out of seasonal foods.
Visit your local farmer’s market to ensure that your food is fresh and brimming with its intended nutrients. Eating food without ingesting pesticides and chemicals… just makes sense.
4. DINING OUT
Post-pandemic, it’s important we support our local eateries, and with so many restaurants pro-farm-to-plate and bars scrapping single-use plastics, just a tad of research will have you eating and drinking like a sustainable champion.
A few rules of thumb; when eating out at a restaurant don’t be afraid to ask questions. Yes, be that customer. Find out where your food has come from, and if their suppliers are compliant with sustainable resourcing. If you know you’re not about to demolish a large serving, think about splitting your appetisers and mains or go for the share plates. Alternatively, get a doggie bag, and yes, be that customer who brings their own container. Just say no to the buffet.
If you’re run off your feet (or a little hungover) and only Uber Eats or the nearest take-away will do, you can still make sure it’s as sustainable as possible. Say no to plastic straws, bags, silverware, and extra napkins. Decline extra condiments (because you make them yourself now, right?), and recycle the paper bag you’re left with.
5. CONSCIOUSLY EAT SEAFOOD & MEAT
Farming animals for meat and dairy requires space and huge amounts of water and feed. The livestock industry alone generates nearly 15% of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions.
Roughly 94% of fish stocks are overfished or maximally sustainably fished and aquaculture has its own issues.
When responsibly produced, seafood can benefit people, nature, and the climate. Try a diverse range of species from well-managed sources, eat lower in the food chain and opt for lower carbon emission seafood.
According to WWF, 75% of the world’s food supply comes from just 12 plants and five animal species. The lack of variety in agriculture just isn’t nature-friendly and is a threat to food security.
The bottom line is, it’s time we ate more plants, and it’s time we started mixing it up. And yes, that means your canned tuna habit.
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